There is not one single thing I ever did from womb to age eighteen that my mother did not know about. For all her selfless loving-kindness, she’s also the scrappiest person I’ve ever known. Until I started college my cell phone went on the kitchen table every night at 9pm. She would cross-check all the text messages online to make sure I hadn’t deleted anything.
Once when I was seventeen she just turned the text messaging off. It was expensive and I was too consumed with it anyway. Oh, what a hysterical mess I became. How would I EVER communicate with anyone again? Being the wise teenager that I was, I formed a superior Plan B. On my way to church (ha!) the next week, I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a gray flip-phone with prepaid text messaging capabilities.
I opted not to tell my mom. After all, I drove myself in my own car full of gas that I paid for with my own money from my after-school job as a secretary. I purchased the phone with the money I saved from working at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park during the summer prior. And now I could talk to my own friends whenever I wanted. Finally I had something that did not concern her. For the next few weeks, I executed the stealthiest rebellion operation ever performed. Secret pocket in my purse, never left in broad daylight, casual mentions of how I talked to my friend on the phone that day. That’s when I realized: being an adult is about doing whatever you damn well please.
It was with the same attitude that I left the secret phone exposed on my bed one Saturday afternoon. My mom burst in (without knocking, how dare her!) to find me performing a frantic grab-and-hide behind my back. Rookie mistake. But still, in all my wisdom, I did not accept this to be the end. Activate Plan C.
Clutching the phone I zipped past the woman like I was Flash himself and proceeded to run circles around the kitchen island for ten minutes. When she caught up to me, I shoved the thing down the front of my shirt. Back to the refrigerator, nowhere for either of us to go, I touted a look of smug triumph. To which my mother replied, in all her scrappy glory, “Don’t think I won’t go in there.”
My eyes widened. I pulled the measly flip-phone from its winner’s circle and plopped it into her left hand, enemy territory.
“Oh. A cell phone? I don’t care about that. I thought you were hiding condoms.” She tossed it back to me.
Why on earth my mother ever thought I would leave condoms laying on my bed in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon and then fight to hide them from her is beyond me. Mostly because I’m a Christian and Christians don’t have sex. Ever. Everybody knows that. Apparently all I had to do in order to keep my phone was ensure that it was not a condom. Done.
“Wait, really? You’re not mad?”
“You have a job. You can have your own phone if you want. It’s probably a waste, though.”
Soon I would crash my navy blue Jeep into a white, rusty flatbed Ford while texting on said flip-phone. The mangy redneck would get out of his truck and accuse me of murdering his children. I would cry. The cops would assure me that the children were fine. Weeks later the mangy redneck would be on the front page of the newspaper for having used the insurance money from the accident to purchase autographed Dale Earnhardt Jr. tires. Meanwhile, my jeep would be totalled, my insurance bill would go up, my driving record would go down, and I would have spent $93.76 sending unmemorable words to other teenagers.
There, reading the headline “Man Acquires Priceless Tires” on the front page of The McDowell News from the passenger seat of my mother’s minivan, is when I became bored with texting on my flip-phone. That’s also when I would realize: being an adult is about doing what your mother told you.
Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.